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Pain, Pepper, and Mercy
Mar 1, 2014

Life is ever-changing. Many times, it feels like a sweet candy, but many other times it's as painful as a poisonous drink. Facing sorrow, loss, or another misfortune, life can become a torturous nightmare from which we want to wake up. It hurts like a hot pepper taken inadvertently. Those moments are when we most need some comforting perspectives, just like as follows:

O heart! You and your suffering for Him exist; ah, how nice it is always to be concerned with Him and suffering for Him! That suffering is, in fact, your cure.
O you who are seeking the world; you are like a day laborer in this world;
and you, lover of Paradise, are also far distant from truth.
O you, who are unaware of the truth and pleased with the two worlds,
You are excused, for you have not felt
the pleasure of suffering for the Beloved's sake. (Rumi)

How does suffering become a cure or a pleasure? Just like hot peppers do. Why do we consume hot peppers, even though they are painful to eat? In his article, Ali Fethi Toprak explains that experts think hot peppers "are good for our health by lowering blood pressure, having antimicrobial effects, and increasing salivation thus making a boring diet fun." Kocabas also suggests that, according to some studies, the capsaicin present in hot peppers could be used as a pain suppressor.

Also in this issue, Katharine Branning explains that researchers have discovered a link between the heavy consumption of isot pepper and the very low cancer rates in southeast Turkey. The "research has provided conclusive evidence that isot pepper does indeed possess substantial anti-cancer properties." In Branning's piece, the very hot isot pepper does not only help cure cancer, but is also an emblem of dialogue, friendship, and mercy, stretching across cultures and religions.

In her heartbreaking memoir, Magdalena Rusanova tells us about her father, who she lost when she was a child. As we read along, we trace each and every threshold she needed to surpass in her life as she grew into adolescence, developed relationships with others, and faced important choices. Even though her father's memory faded as the years passed, and despite her pain, there was one significant piece of advice he had given her, which happened to guide her all her life. Choosing the right guide is necessary for an unwavering walk in our lives, as Niyazi-i Misri says,

Let not any guide lead you, for he may make it
too difficult to proceed;
It is very easy for one whose guide is perfect
to advance along this path.
The right guide can even help us discover the pleasure in pain.